It's almost final now. Malcom Glazer has finally bought out the Scottish racing magnates John Magnier and J.P. McManus and has moved upto 70% stockholding in ManU. He just needs 5% more to acquire his needed 75% to control ManU fully and thus ending an almost 3 year saga in his struggle with the fans and the board for what is perceived by many as a 'hostile' takeover bid. The major concerns all the ManU fans have about Glazer is that unlike the smiling Russian he comes in with a huge debt which the club will have to bear. Until now ManU has probably been the only club in the EPL to carry on it's proceeding without any major debts. It has also been able to at the same time buy major players at relatively large transfer fees without any major dents in it's bank balance. When ManU decided to list on the exchange it made ManU a very transparent business, whose fortunes would be even more dependent upon the performances on the pitch. It also meant that ManU could no longer spend astronomically at any given time like say Chelsea in a short time and without major opposition. While in recent times ManU's North London rivals Arsenal have done better on the pitch winning back-to-back championships it did not spend a single pound on transfer fees this season owing to large debts especially due to the costs for the huge new stadium it is building.
The emergence of the once almost bankrupt Chelsea and the Millionaire from Moscow has indeed upset a lot of applecarts. For once major spenders in the EPL no longer compare with the amounts Chelsea has spent. ManU has spent about £38 Million while Chelsea has spent in excess of £200 million in transfer fees alone. What remains to be seen if Abrahamovic continues his policy of buying out the best players - but he will definitely have to sell players to accommodate the new entrants. Now Glazer will bring in a debt worth about £500 million into the club from the blue and ManU will go from being a financially stable entity to one with huge amounts of debt.
One of the major reasons for the delay in the takeover bid and for 2 unsuccessful attempts has been the pressure of the fans. The ManU fans have been an extremely organized unit running an extremely effective and hard-hitting campaign against Glazer. They see Glazer as a hostile money-making businessman with no love for the sport. That Glazer has very less knowledge in the sport is well known. The fans have highlighted the fact that Glazer having no interest in the sport will effectively mean that he will only use the club as a tool to pay off his debt and probably won't even hesitate to sell of some of it's star players. There is speculation as to the role United's long serving manager Sir Alex Ferguson will take in this matter. The amount of money he will get in the summer to add some steel to his squad in their efforts to bring back the title to Old Trafford will also be affected by this major change at the top and could be the deciding factor as far as his reign at the club is considered. However it is said Glazer himself will not antagonize the fans even further by sacking the well-loved long-serving United manager.
However what Glazer does next is anybody's guess. What he will definitely try and do is to make more money out of the club. He might increase ticket prices(which are still relatively low) and probably bring even more sponsorships/endorsements to the club. Whether he spends money to strengthen the squad needs to be seen. However if he really wants to make money ManU will have to regain it's lost supremacy in Europe and in England. And for now the only way to that seems to be getting the best players. So Glazer will effectively have to make the club more successful - which in turn is what the fans want. So it might not be as gloomy as it seems for the fans. The only things that can be done is wait and watch.
As for the immediate present - the only thing that the players can do is not get distracted and figure out a way to get past what seems to be an absolutely fantastic Arsenal team in the FA cup final.
UPDATE : Till Now Glazer has acquired 74.86% of the Club - just short of 75%
Friday, May 13, 2005